Sauvignon Blanc is the most commonly produced wine in New Zealan, and accounts for 80% of the total wine export. But, as any New Zealand wine enthusiast will tell you, Sauvignon isn’t the only wine that this country produces. The Sauvignon Blanc might have been at the forefront, but other wine varieties, like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and more, aren’t that far behind. New Zealand wines are now considered among the finest in the world.
Following The Vineyards: 5 Best Wine Tours in New Zealand
If you’re a wine connoisseur starting a wine collection or you simply love drinking wine, why not go on a wine tour in New Zealand? Here are your best options:
1. Marlborough Guided Wine And Bike Tour
Marlborough is the most popular wine region in New Zealand. Located in the South Island, the region enjoys plenty of sunshine and has soil perfect for winegrowers. It is New Zealand’s largest wine region, measuring about 20,000 hectares, and produces more than two-thirds of the country’s wine.
The region’s terrain is flat and easy, which you can explore at a leisurely pace. You’ll see vineyards spread across the land, surrounded by blue mountains on the horizon. The tour includes stops at six wineries, where you’ll get a taste of the legendary Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
2. Central Otago Wine Tours In Queenstown
Also located in South Island, Central Otago may not be the biggest wine producer. However, it’s undoubtedly among the most picturesque wine tours in New Zealand. On this tour, you’ll visit Gibbston Valley, where temperatures are low and wine quality is high. Wines from Gibbston are consistent award-winners.
Another location included in the tour is Bannockburn, a mountainous area that’s also among the driest and hottest parts of Central Otago. This dry climate makes the vines in this area ripen much quicker.
Wines produced here are primarily from the Pinot Noir grapes, which you will be able to sample. And, if you choose the longer gourmet tour, you and your party can experience this wine together with cheese tasting, plus a sumptuous lunch on one of the vineyards.
3. Napier Afternoon Wine Tour
An area on the North Island you can’t miss is Hawke’s Bay, which is in the city of Napier. Hawke’s Bay is the country’s second-largest producer of wine. This part of New Zealand has warm weather, and the sun shines for most of the year. This greatly favors the growth of full-flavored dark grapes. The premium red blends of New Zealand, like Bordeaux and Merlot, are from this region.
You’ll enjoy a visit to the cellar of the 150-year-old Mission Estate Winery, the oldest winery in the country. The tasting hall and restaurant are located in the two-story Victorian mansion that commands a glorious view of the vineyards.
You will also make a stop at the French-owned Church Road Winery, also housed in another magnificent building made to look like an old French barn. The next stop is at the Urban Winery, which is known for its art nouveau architecture. Rounding up the tour is a visit to the Linden Estate, where you will get to taste wine paired with a cheese platter.
4. Piha And Karekare Rainforest Wine Tour In Auckland
The Henderson Valley and Kumeu Valley, two of New Zealand’s most important wine regions, are mere 30 minutes away from Auckland, its largest city. These regions are among the best in the North Island because of their fertile volcanic soil.
The vineyards here have been cultivated by the Lebanese, English, and Croatian winegrowers for more than a hundred years. Until now, they continue to produce first-rate Chardonnay, robust Merlot, and other varieties.
You and your party can enjoy guided wine-tasting tours at wineries in the Ararimu and Henderson Valley, and Kumeu wine regions. You could also travel through west Auckland’s spectacular landscape, with stopovers at the black sand beach at Piha, the Karekare Waterfalls, and the Arataki Visitor Center.
5. Maori Wine Tasting Tour In Waiheke Island
This will probably be one of your most memorable wine tours in New Zealand. Waiheke is one of those islands that you’d wish you’d never have to leave. It’s a resort island in the North that also happens to have world-class vineyards.
It has a warm and dry climate, which is excellent for wine-growing. The island produces wine varieties like Cabernet, Chardonnay, and the rarer Pinot Gris.
You can tour the island on foot with a Maori guide, and they can share with you the rich Maori heritage as they show the island’s winding trails and places where you can enjoy a view of the beaches, and the Hauraki Gulf from the coastal headlands. You’ll have a stopover at a vineyard, learn about the different wine varieties that grow in the fertile soils, and finish off with some wine tasting.
Visiting wineries is almost like a spiritual experience. Not only will you learn how wine is made, but you’d also learn how to appreciate different wines and their different nuances from people who are passionate about their craft. Whether you are with friends or with strangers, the feel and the vibe of wine tasting in a winery anywhere in the world will always stay with you, making the experience unforgettable.